Wednesday, September 14, 2016

St. Andrew's Lutheran Church, Columbia, SC

Below is a letter I just mailed to Pastor John Trump and the saints at St. Andrew's Lutheran, Columbia, SC. Cheryl and I spent most of Sunday, 9-11-16, with them. Wonderful visit and wonderful partnership.

September 13, 2016

St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church
1416 Broad River Rd.
Columbia, SC 29210-7623

Dear Pastor John and the St. Andrew’s Family:

Thank you for allowing me to be with you on September 11, 2016 at both services, the Sunday School hour, the after-church meal, and the tour of Welcome House. The Burmese youth choir was a beautiful addition! And thank you for the work we do together. I continue to bask in our Sunday fellowship and decided to reiterate the points I tried to make during my brief remarks to the congregation.

Thank you for the partnership between the South Carolina Synod and Lutheran Services Carolinas! That partnership allows us to serve in so many ways, from veterans to foster care, to people with developmental disabilities, to refugees. And no congregation in the Carolinas has a closer connection to Lutheran Services Carolinas than St. Andrew’s.

The Catholic Church just made one of my personal heroes, Mother Teresa, a saint. I have always taken to heart her words, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” Few saints do more than the saints here at St. Andrews. Thank you again for your partnership and ministry through Welcome House and beyond!

We are the church together! Separately, we are so thin; together we are so strong! Your chocolate – the old parsonage, and our peanut butter – the refugee services program, make a great partnership. Serving and partnering is never easy. Wear and tear, constant turnover, cultural differences, cooking and bathroom issues – some days I’m sure you throw up your hands and lament, “No good deed goes unpunished!” But we are the church together! We overcome the obstacles and stand together to welcome people who are escaping death and death threats and persecution and starvation.

Lutheran Services Carolinas has resettled over 14,000 refugees since 1979 from every corner of the world and from many religions of the world. And without incident. We will continue to be the hands of Christ, to work with and for you in this imperfect world.

Thank you for your time Sunday and for God’s richest blessings on your ministry here at St. Andrew’s every day!

Yours in Christ,

Ted W. Goins, Jr.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Lutheran Services Carolinas and Grace Lutheran, Hendersonville, NC

Grace Lutheran celebrated their 100th anniversary on 9-4-16. They invited fellow church organizations to share connections. When I started thinking about it, there were so many connections. We are the Church together! My letter to Grace:

Grace Lutheran Church
1245 6th Ave. W
Hendersonville, NC 28739-3311

Dear Friends:

Congratulations and God’s richest blessings as you celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of Grace Lutheran Church. Grace has meant a great deal to Lutheran Services Carolinas, and to me personally.

Crescent View, now known as Trinity View, is a ministry of Lutheran Services Carolinas. Trinity View opened in 1991 to serve seniors in western North Carolina. Trinity View fulfills its mission as a faith-based, small, affordable, rental community.

Grace Lutheran Church has been instrumental in Trinity View’s founding and success. Your pastors and the congregation have been developers, supporters, volunteers, friends, employees, donors, board members, and always brothers and sisters in Christ. Grace and Trinity View have been an example of all of us being the church together! We are especially grateful that Grace and Pastor Greg & Brenda shared LSC teammate Elliott Williams with us.

Probably the most impactful connection between Grace Lutheran and Lutheran Services Carolinas is The Rev. Doctor Jefferson Norris, grandfather of Brenda Williams and great grandfather of Elliott. Dr. Norris, a former pastor at Grace, was a founder of Lutheran Services Carolinas, leaving Grace to become the first Executive Director of The Lutheran Home in Hickory, LSC’s first ministry. His legacy has grown into a $130 million ministry that serves the Carolinas through adoptions, foster care, refugee services, services for those with developmental disabilities, nursing homes, retirement centers, and much more.

Again, congratulations and blessings on your one hundredth anniversary, on our twenty-fifth anniversary together, and on the next generation of collaboration and mutual support. And on a personal note, Cheryl and I were married at Grace on October 27, 1990. We thank you for tying the knot tight allowing Cheryl and me a long and happy marriage!

Yours in Christ,

Ted W. Goins, Jr.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Lutheran Services Carolinas at SC Lutheran Assembly

The SC Lutheran Synod was nice enough to allow LSC to present to the Assembly. Below are my remarks. Then LSC Director of Refugee Services Bedrija Jazic was allowed extended time to share the current state of our refugee services work in the State of South Carolina.

Lutheran Services Carolinas is proud to be part of A Reforming Church: Living out Reconciliation and Renewal!

The Synod and LSC do that together.

We do that together when the Ku Klux Klan targets our Columbia office because we serve refugees who are escaping persecution and death. Bishop Yoos and the Synod stood foursquare against the Klan and to oppose anti refugee legislation.

We stand together to serve hundreds of foster children coming out of saddening and often horrendous broken home circumstances.

We have stood together in the last two years developing now 10 group homes for people with developmental disabilities.

We stand together serving homeless veterans, even though that is getting increasingly difficult due to government changes.

We stand together as we partner with WELCA to share books with disadvantaged children.

We stand together in local partnerships to meet local needs: St. Andrew’s Columbia’s refugee Welcome House, St. Luke Florence for use of their ministry house, All Saints Mt. Pleasant’s birthday cakes for foster children, St. John’s Beaufort for Christmas presents for foster children, St. Luke’s Summerville for hosting our foster care Christmas party since the early 2000s, and Reformation Columbia for our shared office/meeting space!

In 2011, our child and family services were about a $15 million ministry. About 10 in NC and 5 in SC.

Today, we have grown from $15 million to a budget of $19M, and one half of that budget is managed out of the Columbia office. I only mention budget because that means we are serving more people who need services!

That growth in ministry is coming through opportunities across the state, and an entrepreneurial and innovative staff in Columbia and around the state. Executive Director Bethany Vause and her staff have been passionate leaders in reform and in ministry.

LSC is just getting started. There are great needs across the state. In part to try to address those needs, the Synod has graciously given us permission to conduct a synod-wide capital campaign beginning in 2018.

One example, I am pleased to announce that LSC, with a grant from the ELCA Lutheran Disaster Response, will be employing a case manager in the ongoing aftermath of the October floods that devastated the area. And at the same time, LSC, with a grant from Lutheran Services in America, will be employing a VISTA worker for the next three years to help indigent and underserved populations be better prepared in the event of disasters. The emergency crews are long gone, but I am proud that our church is walking with those with the greatest need as they rebuild their lives.

Thank you for standing together with us as The Reforming Church, for your prayers, and for allowing me to be here today.

And now the star of the show. Refugee services is one of the hottest topics in the state and in the country. Bedrija Jazik is one of those passionate leaders I mentioned earlier. Our refugee services are growing in ministry and in size and in service. To brief you on the latest in refugee services, please join me in welcoming one of the most dedicated, sacrificing, passionate people I know, Bedrija Jazik.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Claudia Sigmon's retirement with 41 years of service!!!

The letter below will be read to CNA Claudia Sigmon at her Trinity Village, Hickory, retirement party at 2 pm today. I hate I'm not able to be there. Love this woman!

Dear Claudia,

I am so sorry that I am not there to celebrate your retirement from Trinity Village. I’m serving as Chair of the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce, and we have a major event today at exactly the same time as your party.

On behalf of the entire Lutheran Service Carolinas family, thank you for 41 years of faithful service to the residents of Trinity Village. You have been a role model for me. Your 16 years of quiet leadership and service had already become well known when I started there as administrator 25 years ago. I have witnessed your servant leadership happen ever since.

We often talk about ourselves as the hands and feet of Christ to the people we serve. You are the hands and feet of Christ! Imagine how many people you have comforted and cared for. Imagine how many hours you have served. The simple math of 41 years times a normal 2080 hours worked per year would equate to 85,280 hours. And I’m sure you never worked any extra shifts! You have set a standard that the rest of us can aspire to.

Thank you again for what you have done for your residents and for Trinity Village. God’s richest blessings as you enter this next phase of your life. And remember, once family, always family. So don’t be a stranger.

Yours in Christ,


Monday, April 25, 2016

Customer Service and Lutheran Services Carolinas

I'm traveling for Lutheran Services Carolinas this week and last. Traveling to different cities and staying in hotels highlights the broad variety of customer service experiences.

In the last few days, I have had hotel staff to not be helpful and not look me in the eye, and an airline employee tell me to wait, then 5 minutes later to say she was going on break and that another person would be manning that station for my flight in an hour. Thank you very much. Email me if you'd like know the airline.

But now I am in Minneapolis at the Hilton, where everyone is helpful and seems to genuinely want to be helpful. They remind me of LSC! Part of our secret sauce is people who are passionate about their ministry, and it shows.

By and large, LSC teammates speak to everyone they see because they want to help; phone calls and emails are returned; people are treated with dignity and respect; and we have fun! Life's too short for otherwise.

We always have room to improve. Occasionally we hire a Gloomy Gus or Gussie, but they can't last long in the face of all that passion.

We've also discovered another side effect of being friendly. Security! Security is a growing concern across our society. To protect our clients and residents and our teammates and our buildings, we have to be on guard - with a smile. When we smile, make eye contact, and speak to a visitor, whether it be in the yard of a group home or hall of a nursing home, or in the parking lot at an office, we are letting that person know they have been identified. That alone may stop their ill intended actions.

Security is a byproduct, but remember when we smile, we mean it!